-- Vancouver forward Rick Rypien
was suspended for six games by the NHL on Friday, punishment for his altercation with a fan during Tuesday's game in Minnesota.
Including the game already served while Friday's hearing was pending, Rypien will be eligible to return to play Nov. 6 against Detroit. The Canucks also were fined $25,000, as required by League policy.
"Prior to each season, all clubs and players are advised that under no circumstances are club personnel permitted to have physical contact with fans, or enter, or attempt to enter the stands," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We hold NHL players to a high standard, and there simply is no excuse for conduct of this nature. Fortunately, this incident is not typical of the way NHL players conduct themselves and is not typical of the way Mr. Rypien had conducted himself during his career."
Rypien made contact with the fan as he was heading down the tunnel to the dressing room at the Xcel Energy Center after drawing a double-minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct for an altercation with Minnesota's Brad Staubitz
at the 13:38 mark of the second period of an eventual 6-2 loss. As he left the playing bench, Rypien reached up and pushed a spectator who was applauding at the railing separating the stands from the tunnel.
The suspension was announced Friday afternoon after Rypien attended an in-person hearing at the League offices in New York City; a meeting attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell
Rypien was represented by his agent, Allain Roy
, the Vancouver Canucks
and the National Hockey League Players' Association.
"We understand and respect the League's decision today regarding Rick Rypien
. While this game is played with passion and intensity, the safety of all of our fans and players is of the utmost importance at all times," said Canucks' GM Mike Gillis in a statement. "Throughout his career Rick has been well respected by his teammates, coaches, fellow players and our community. Rick is a valued member of our organization and we will continue to support him and all of his teammates to ensure incidents like this do not happen in the future."
It's the longest suspension for player-fan interaction since March 20, 1982 when Vancouver's Doug Halward was suspended for seven games.
On August 23, 2010, a memorandum was issued to all General Managers, Coaches and Players to serve as a reminder on discipline for the 2010-11 season.
Following is an excerpt from the section that addressed "Contact with Fans":
"Under no circumstances are Club personnel -- either players or non-players -- permitted to have physical contact with fans, or enter, or attempt to enter the stands. Even where a fan is verbally abusive, intoxicated, or profane, Club personnel should either ignore the conduct or, where appropriate, seek the assistance of police or security personnel at the arena.
"Accordingly, please be on notice that all Club personnel (management, coaches, trainers, and/or players) who engage in any form of physical contact with fans, including the squirting of water, will, on a going forward basis, be subject to discipline in the form of a suspension. The Club involved will also be subject to a fine."